My husband and I spent a couple of days in this area. Our best dinner by far was at Stokes Restaurant in Monterey. I'd heard of this place for years but never had the chance to go. Service, food, and ambiance were excellent. Loved dining in an old adobe that was serene and pleasant. The menu has starters, small plates, and entrees, all very generous. We shared a house-made fennel with eggplant appetizer, and heirloom tomato salad with fresh mozzarella small plate. I had lamb shoulder and my husband had pork. The menu supposedly changes daily. With a bottle of wine (sorry, it escapes me what we had), the bill was $120 before tip. We would definitely go back again.
Had lunch the next day at Nepenthe in Big Sur. Yes, the food is overpriced, but you absolutely cannot beat the view. We go there often and it was just as nice this time with sunny weather. My husband had the ambrosia burger and I had a turkey with bacon and avocado sandwich. The stellar blue jays were fun to watch, but they can be aggressive and noisy.
Dinner that night was disappointing. Had read about La Bicyclette in Carmel on Chowhound and decided to give it a try, but really wish we'd gone somewhere else. Though it has a charming and cute interior like most restaurants in Carmel, our entrees were dry (game hen for me, pot roast for my husband). Our server had the annoying habit of addressing us in plural first person ("Are we enjoying our entrees?" "Are we finished with our soup?"). You get soup and salad with your meal here but you have no choice. It is prix fixe, but the dessert is extra. We skippped that. Wine was good. We had a Georis Sauvignon Blanc and my husband had a glass of Georis syrah as well.
La Bicyclette is at 7th & Delores in Carmel Village
Lunch the next day was much more pleasant. This was at the Red House Cafe in Pacific Grove. This place had a line and we could see why. We waited about 30 minutes for a table inside (outside was a little too chilly). The cream of cauliflower soup was wonderful and the sandwiches were huge. The restaurant is in a cute old house with period furniture. Small and a bit cramped, but you feel like you're in someone's grandma's house. We'd definitely go back again.
Now that I'm back, I'm finding other places on the Web in PG that sound intriguing. Does anyone have any opinion on the Pinos Grill, owned also by the Red House Cafe people? Or Max's Grill, run by the former chef of Anton & Michel? We have still yet to try Passionfish or The White House. Also, how is the Cellar Door Chop House? Drove by Melange and that looks interesting as well.
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